IKE | Subtitles
2287
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Subtitles

Subtitles

The August 16th edition of Publishers Weekly featured a piece by Martin Kihn on its Soapbox page called Subtitle-O-Matic which contained a flowchart showing how you could create your own subtitle using the formula of recent releases, and it was this article that got me thinking about subtitles and the reason they are used, which reminded me of earlier articles on the subject, such as The Subtitle That Changed America by Ben Yagoda, and Publishers be bold: Why It’s Time to Ditch the Subtitle and Are Subtitles Necessary? (which alluded to Mr. Yagoda’s article) that convinced me to write on this subject that I originally considered calling “Subtitles: The Remarkable, True Story of How One Man on a Mission of Sanity Took On the Literary Establishment by Defying the Conventions of His Time and Became the Hero of His Generation by Introducing Brevity as a Concept in the Consideration of Book Titles and Thus Slowed the Decline of Publishing at the Beginning of the Second Decade of the Twenty-First Century and Helped Transform America One Book at a Time…and Why You Should Get Down on Your Hands and Knees and Sing His Praises for Making His Thoughts Known to a Wider Audience through His Blog Post Regarding the Nonsensical Use&#8212or Should I Say&#8212Overuse of Indiscriminately Verbose Descriptions in Support of a Title That Neither Wants nor Needs Additional Supplementation by Using the Example of a Popular Adventure Story Written by the Inestimable, Daniel DeFoe Who I’m Confident You Will Recognize as the Author of the Classic, The Life and Most Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of AMERICA, near the Mouth of the Great River of OROONOQUE; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself WITH an Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by PYRATES, or this Equally Valid Example by Dick Morris Called Fleeced: How Barack Obama, Media Mockery of Terrorist Threats, Liberals Who Want to Kill Talk Radio, the Do-Nothing Congress, Companies That Help Iran, and Washington Lobbyists for Foreign Governments Are Scamming Us … and What to Do About It Which I Found in an Internet Search by the Staff at AbeBooks called How Book Subtitles are Getting More Ridiculous by the Day in Which They Talk About “the Recent Tendency for Books to Use the Subtitle as a Place to Jam Internet Search Keywords… [and How] Bloggers Learnt Long Ago That No Matter How Important Keywords Are to Your Title You Must Never Sacrifice Readability for the Sake of Keywords, But It Occurred to Me That By Using These Ridiculously Long Subtitles as Examples I Was Creating an Untenably Muddled Series of Clauses and Sub-clauses Which No Reasonably Sane Copyeditor Could Be Expected to Punctuate With Any Degree of Accuracy, Unless&#8212of Course&#8212They Had Recently Purchased The Sixteenth Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style and Were Prepared to Point Out That I Was Undercutting the Very Point I Was Going to Make in the Post, Which Was How These Superflous, Stemwinding Descriptions Were an Unnecessary Extravagance Perpetrated by Overworked and Underpaid Sales and Marketing Departments That Use Use Them As a Shorthand (ah, the irony) to Disguise the Fact That They Don’t Have the Time to Write Scintallating Copy to Promote the Book, So&#8212in the End&#8212I Opted to Show Restraint and Use the Succinct Title That Now Adorns This Post: Subtitles.”

David Isaacson
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